Monday, August 27, 2007

How Trader Joe's Is Like A Drug Dealer

Don't get me wrong I love Trader Joe's; some of their items are truly taste treats that can take a meal from ho-hum to a restaurant experience in no time flat. The tempura vegetables are yummy, the garlic naan is like any I've had in a great Indian food place, "two-buck-chuck" wine is tasty (though in Vegas it's "three-buck-chuck"), and the Double Rainbow ice cream- well there are just no words. No, Joe doesn't love me, or at least my feelings for him are stronger than his for me.

SO and I were on a recent expedition to TJ's; in self defense we'd had a meal prior to the trip and could adhere to the shopping list. Shopping at the Joe's when hungry is a set-up for destruction. We'd crossed everything off the list except for two necessary items: low sodium tuna and Mexican Red Sauce, and after giving the aisles the "fine tooth comb" treatment, I approached the friendly young man at the service desk and inquired about the items.

The Friendly Young Man entered the tuna into the computer and informed me that they were out of tuna in the warehouse and he didn't think they carried the Mexican Red sauce any longer. I was amazed, how could they just not carry it any longer? Two trips ago there were boxes of it in the aisles. I didn't allow SO to purchase the sauce then because we had enough. I'm NEVER going to hear the end of that, but I digress.

As Friendly Young Man searches the computer one last time I remark that TJ's is like a drug dealer, they give you a little taste and get you hooked. Friendly Young Man says no, they're actually worse than a drug dealer because instead of simply raising the prices once you're hooked, they just say "whoops, don't have that anymore". Friendly Young Man is smiling as he delivers this barb.

I stand at the customer disservice desk as the realization sinks in that I'll have to deliver the sad news to SO, no more Mexican Red Sauce. I look down and notice a sheet on the counter, clearly an "eyes only" sheet for Trader Joe's employees, which states something about turning fans into loyalists. I point to the sheet and say somewhat loudly: "having the products you've gotten your customers hooked on is the way to turn them into loyalists!"

As I walk away, Friendly Young Man stealthily removes the sheets from the counter. He's no longer smiling.